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Illinois: Family Law Lawyers
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What Does a Family Law Attorney Do?
A family law attorney generally handles matters that involve the family court system, including family-related issues and domestic relationships. Some of the common practice areas Illinois family lawyers handle include:
- Marital property division
- Prenuptial agreements
- Child custody cases
- Child support
- Parental rights
- Alimony or spousal support
- Domestic violence
- Restraining orders
- Estate planning
- Juvenile dependency
- Juvenile delinquency
- Child abuse
Family lawyers may work in many capacities, including as a private lawyer in a small family law firm, a family law lawyer in a big firm, for county or state government agencies, in nonprofit organizations, or as a state attorney. Attorneys act as advocates for their clients, which may include representing the interests of a minor child in child abuse or juvenile dependency hearings.
Do Family Law Attorneys Handle Divorce?
A large part of family law practice involves divorce. Divorce can be a difficult process, especially when the couple is in dispute over how to handle the separation. A contested divorce can get complicated when emotions are involved, often involving money problems or infidelity. Divorce is a major life-changing event and it can be difficult to navigate on your own.
In general, a divorce lawyer can only represent one spouse in a divorce. There is a conflict of interest in trying to represent both spouses. When you find a family law attorney, your attorney will act as an advocate for you and advise you in your best interests.
In an uncontested divorce, a family law attorney can help their client prepare the divorce order, with all the issues settled between the couple, including division of property and child custody and visitation. In an uncontested divorce, there is nothing left for the court to decide and the court may issue the final divorce court order after making sure the couple has met all the statutory requirements to legally end the marriage.
In a contested divorce, there may be a dispute over many issues, including property, alimony, and child custody. If the couple cannot settle these issues through negotiations or mediation, it may be left up to the family court judge to decide how to settle the disputes. Contested divorces can take longer and be more expensive for each spouse.
Do You Need a Lawyer in Illinois?
Anyone who is aiming to file a lawsuit or who must defend themselves against a lawsuit (civil) or criminal allegations should find an Illinois lawyer who has experience in the type of case they’re facing. Whether you reside in Illinois or any other state, the rule of law (and the complexity thereof) makes it preferable in most situations to have an attorney to represent your interests in civil or criminal court rather than representing yourself.
Defendants in the Illinois court system — or those facing federal charges for felonies, particularly — will most likely see better results with proper legal counsel. Criminal convictions can result in lengthy jail or prison sentences, as well as the creation of a permanent criminal record for first-time offenders. A skilled lawyer can help you craft the best defense possible, improving your chances of acquittal — and if the prosecution is willing to negotiate rather than go to trial, an attorney can help you get the best deal possible.
If you are seeking restitution, you should consider consulting a lawyer for both civil and criminal court. Whether the defendant is the state or an individual, attorneys working as prosecutors can use a body of provided evidence such as physical evidence, eyewitness accounts, digital communications or surveillance, to create a compelling argument in your favor
In almost all instances, representing yourself in a court of law is not recommended, particularly if the consequences of a conviction (or a failure to successfully prosecute) are significant. Attorneys are often called upon to act as experts, and their expertise can often be invaluable.
How to Find a Lawyer in Illinois
To find an Illinois lawyer, you will want to consider both budget and reputation. It is important to find a lawyer that is within your financial reach but also has strong legal experience and a track record of established success.
Extensive research is also important when selecting a lawyer to represent your best interests. You can check the Illinois State Bar Association to research potential candidates.
Before hiring a lawyer, it’s important to cross-reference results in web searches, to ensure consistent and reliable information. Including checking through prominent cases, social media profiles, local or state media coverage and going directly to the attorney or firm’s website.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost in Illinois?
In Illinois, a general estimate of the per-hour cost for a lawyer can range from about $130 to $400 per hour, depending on location, expertise and the complexity of the case in question.
In some cases, attorneys may opt to offer clients a flat-rate fee instead of a per-hour fee. This typically arises in criminal defense law as well as certain divorce court proceedings. A fee for a misdemeanor defense is usually far less than the flat fee for a felony defense. Representation on issues related to juvenile offenses and traffic offenses may cost you less than the representation on situations involving corporate law or bankruptcies.
Finally, certain lawyers, such as personal injury lawyers, typically offer clients representation based on contingency. If you win a settlement from such a case, such as slipping and falling at a business establishment and incurring a serious injury, your personal injury lawyer will retain a percentage of your total settlement, rather than charging you any per-hour or flat-rate fees.
If you cannot afford representation in a legal matter, legal aid may be an option to consider.
What Types of Cases Can an Illinois Lawyer Help With?
While an Illinois lawyer can take on cases of any sort, the most common criminal cases in Illinois involve simple assault or aggravated assault, sexual assault, violations of the Controlled Substances Act, burglary (business and residential), driving while under the influence (DUI) and severe violent crime such as homicide and armed robbery.
Illinois lawyers are also typically called upon to represent parties in marital disputes leading to divorce or separation, the custody battles common to such cases, and other civil proceedings.